Your Immune System Will Thank You*
“The longer you take a probiotic, the more diverse your microbiome will become, and the stronger your immune system and GI tract get,”* Bindiya Gandhi, M.D., an American Board Family Medicineâcertified physician, previously told mbg. In other words, as your gut microbiome balances, your immune system is supported and strengthened.* In fact, did you know that over 70% of the immune system is located in your digestive tract?
Tips To Reduce And Eliminate The Negative Side Effects Of Probiotics
If you’re one of the few people who has experienced negative side effects while taking probiotics then use these rules to help prevent side effects.
#1. Always use High-Quality Probiotics
Remember that quality matters quite a bit when using probiotics.
Certain strains of probiotics have been studied more than others indicating that they are more helpful for certain conditions.
Creating and packaging these specific strains can be expensive.
In addition, it’s often cheaper to create supplements if you use inactive binders and fillers to “occupy space”.
The unfortunate problem is that many people with gastrointestinal issues tend to react to these binders and fillers.
To avoid these issues you will want to purchase probiotics that do NOT contain inactive fillers, binders, wheat, gluten, dairy, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners or artificial preservatives.
And lastly, you will want to make sure that your probiotics are formulated with a high CFU concentration at the time of manufacturing.
If the bottle claims to deliver 10 billion CFU per serving then it will need to be formulated with at least 20 billion CFU at the time of manufacture.
This has to do with the fact that probiotics will die over time unless they have food to help them survive.
Note that this is only true of certain species.
You can find my recommended brand of probiotics below:
For daily general health consider using a probiotic with at least 100 billion CFU per serving like this one.
How To Choose The Right Probiotic
When looking for probiotic products, look for a supplement with the following features
Multispecies and multistrain probiotic: The product should contain different bacterial species and multiple strains of bacteria.
Differentiated products tailored to your needs: Different digestive issues warrant different probiotic strains. Therefore, for optimal benefits, try to seek out a probiotic that is tailored to the specific health outcomes you are trying to achieve.
Clinical studies: The probiotic and its claims should be backed by clinical studies using the final product. This will ensure that you are buying a product whose effects have been studied and proven.
Human strains: Only human bacterial strains can colonize your gut . Other bacteria, such as bacteria found in fermented foods such as yogurt and in soil-based probiotics, cannot colonize the gut and usually pass through your body within a few days. For lasting positive effects, you want to make sure that you have human strains that can colonize.
Free of animal proteins, allergens and fillers: It is recommended to choose a probiotic that is free of dairy and other animal proteins, gluten, soy and yeast to ensure you are taking a clean product.
Delivery mechanism: When you ingest your probiotic, the probiotic travels through the harsh, very acidic environment of the stomach before it reaches the small and large intestine.
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Stomach Aches Or Cramps
An upset stomach can go hand-in-hand with symptoms like gas and bloating, says McCallum, and should fade in a few weeks if itâs just a matter of your body adjusting to your new probiotics. But if unwelcome bloat continues living in your gut, it can cause everything from nausea to cramping in the longer term, and could be a sign that your probiotics arenât agreeing with you.
How Many Probiotics Should I Take A Day
I figured the more good bacteria in my gut, the better, which is why I went from never taking probiotics to downing 30 billion CFUs a day. However, the National Institutes of Health notes that many doses range from one billion to 10 billion CFUs for adults.
“There is no exact amount of probiotics a person should take a day, as every person’s gut is different,” Dr. Sonpal said. “However, it is advised to avoid taking more than 10 to 20 billion colony forming units as that is usually the maximum amount a person can handle per day.”
He added that, if you eat a diet full of probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, fermented vegetables, or kombucha, it may be beneficial to lower the number of probiotics you take in supplement form. There’s one notable exception. “Antibiotics harm the good bacteria in our gut as well as the bad bacteria causing infection,” Dr. Sonpal said. “So upping the number of probiotics you take per day will likely help maintain a balanced gut when on antibiotics.”
For regular use, it can take about one to two weeks to get acclimated to a lower dose of probiotics, Dr. Sonpal explained – at that point, you can decide whether or not to move up. “If you feel improvement in your stomach, then you can try to take a higher dosage,” he said. “However, if you feel bloated, nauseous, gassy, or are having diarrhea, then you likely need to decrease the number of colony forming units you take per day.”
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Can Probiotics Cause Stomach Pain Or Bloating
Stomach pain is not a common complaint when taking probiotics. However, as your client’s gut microbiome adjusts to the introduction of new probiotic bacteria or yeast, there may be an alteration in gas production due to bacterial fermentation which may contribute to the development of bloating, increased flatulence and potentially stomach discomfort. Some probiotics strains such as Bifidobacteria lactis HN019 has been shown to be helpful in reducing the severity of abdominal cramping and bloating compared to placebo3.
Overall, as its rare to experience any noticeable side effects, it is sensible to first consider whether any symptoms your client may experience whilst taking probiotics could be caused by any other factors new foods, medications or perhaps other supplements – and the connection to the probiotic could be coincidental.
How To Reduce Probiotic Side Effects
If you are taking probiotics and experience any of the above side effects, you dont need to stop taking them completely. Lowering the dosage is often the best way to keep any gastrointestinal discomfort or other side effects at bay.
Most often, your body may just need to adjust to the sudden dose of beneficial bacteria. This initial adjustment period should usually only last the first few days as your guts microflora begin to rebalance. Try to reduce your dosage by half until the symptoms have disappeared then proceed to the suggested dose.
Along with reducing your dosage, you should also:
- Take your probiotics on an empty stomach Probiotics can produce gas when combined with certain foods. Taking your probiotics on an empty stomach ensures that that wont happen and ensures the maximum survivability of the beneficial bacteria. Take your probiotics at least 30 minutes before you eat. If you are still experiencing problems, try taking your probiotics on an empty stomach before bed.
- Drink plenty of water Many of the side effects are a result of your digestive system undergoing the process of detoxification. Staying hydrated will speed up the process and keep you from getting dehydrated if you have diarrhea.
- Stay patient It can take up to two weeks for your body to adjust to the probiotics before the benefits kick in.
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How Long Do Side Effects From Probiotics Last
How you feelâand how long you feel that wayâreally comes down to the current state of your gut health and how your body processes the different probiotic strains. According to Shah, everyone metabolizes probiotics differently, so there’s really no definitive time frame for everyone.
As a general rule, initial unpleasant side effects typically go away within the first two weeks, when your gut microbiome starts to reach its new state of balance. Many people start experiencing gut support benefits as soon as two days after taking probiotics, but it really depends on how imbalanced your gut is to start and which strains you’re taking.*
If you don’t see unpleasant side effects start to diminish in the first couple of weeks, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor and make sure there isn’t something else going on underneath the surface. For example, if you have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or irritable bowel syndrome , the side effects may be more intense and long-lasting.
As for the fringe benefitsâlike less bloating and more regular eliminationâthose should stick around for the long haul.*
Possible Side Effects Of Probiotics
Probiotics are living bacteria and yeasts that provide health benefits when consumed in large amounts.
They can be taken as supplements or consumed naturally through fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha .
The health benefits of probiotic supplements and foods have been well documented, including a lower risk of infections, improved digestion and even a reduced risk for some chronic diseases .
While there are many health benefits linked to taking probiotics, there can also be side effects. Most of these are minor and only affect a small percentage of the population.
However, some people with serious illnesses or compromised immune systems may experience more severe complications.
This article reviews the most common side effects of probiotics and how to reduce them.
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Some Ingredients May Cause Adverse Reactions
People with allergies or intolerances should read the labels of probiotic supplements carefully, since they might contain ingredients they could react to.
For example, some of the supplements contain allergens such as dairy, egg or soy.
These ingredients should be avoided by anyone who is allergic, as they may trigger an allergic reaction. If necessary, read labels carefully to avoid these ingredients .
Similarly, yeast-based probiotics should not be taken by those with yeast allergies. Instead, a bacteria-based probiotic should be used .
Milk sugar, or lactose, is also used in many probiotic supplements .
While studies suggest that most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate up to 400 mg of lactose in medications or supplements, there have been case reports of adverse effects from probiotics .
Since a small number of people with lactose intolerance may experience unpleasant gas and bloating when consuming lactose-containing probiotics, they may want to choose lactose-free products.
In addition to containing powerful probiotics, some supplements also contain prebiotics. These are plant fibers that humans cannot digest, but that bacteria can consume as food. The most common types are lactulose, inulin and various oligosaccharides (
Some people experience gas and bloating when consuming synbiotics. Those who experience these side effects may want to select a supplement that does not contain prebiotics .
Should I Try Probiotics
If you are interested in adding probiotics to your diet, its worth a conversation with your healthcare provider. Many providers may suggest giving them a try to see if they help with your general health. It is important to remember that not all probiotics behave the same way and have the same effects. Each has their own individual benefits. They generally dont cause harm. One easy way to start can be by simply introducing probiotic-rich foods into your diet, like yogurt.
Before you start any supplements, make sure you talk to your healthcare provider. Your provider may be able to point you in the right direction, helping you figure out the best probiotic to take, how much to take and when to take it. A conversation is always worth the time when it concerns your health.
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Can Probiotics Cause Constipation
Probiotics do not typically cause constipation. In fact, those who have sluggish bowels may find that a probiotic can help improve their bowel regularity. However, there are also probiotic strains that may slow down stool transit time if taken in higher doses such as Saccharomyces boulardi which those prone to constipation may choose to avoid. In this case, there would be other strains of live cultures which would be more appropriate for their needs such as Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12® which has been shown in clinical trials to promote bowel regularity in those with low stool frequency compared with a placebo2.
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Are Probiotics Effective For Seniors
The simple answer is yes, probiotics are one of the most important dietary supplements for seniors to consider as they aim for a long and healthy life.
The human gut is home to an abundance of good bacteria which helps the body perform a number of essential functions such as digestion, nutrient absorption, immune regulation and more.
However, when the healthy balance is disrupted, digestive issues like diarrhea, constipation, and bloating can occur.
These issues are just the early warning signs because if left unresolved, an imbalance in the gut can lead to more serious problems such as allergies, a weakened immune system, and mood changes.
Its no surprise that the diversity and amount of gut bacteria decreases with age, with many of the bodys helpful bacteria rapidly declining.
Whats more, at the same time, harmful bacteria such as Clostridia and Bacteroides considerably increase with age.
In one study, scientists looked to investigate the amount of bifidobacteria present in people of different age groups.
Bifidobacteria contribute to many important tasks in the body, including gut barrier support, immune function, and the production of short-chain fatty acids.
The study found that bifidobacteria made up at least 60-70% of bacteria in the typical gut of a young person, while this dramatically drops to 5% by the time the person reaches old age. The scientists argued that this provides evidence of why many diseases occur in old age.
What Are The Side Effects And Risks Of Probiotics
Supplements play an important role when the diet is not adequate to supply our needs. In the case of probiotics, one’s diet is the ideal source for probiotics. These are live bacteria and need to be carefully monitored, stored, and combined for the health benefits that one would be taking them for. At this time, probiotic supplements are not monitored in the U.S. the way that food or medication is. They fall under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 . This requires that the dietary supplement or dietary ingredient manufacturer be responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement or ingredient is safe before it is marketed. The only time that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may get involved is if action is needed to be taken against a manufacturer after the supplement is marketed and then found to be unsafe. This means that as much as we may know about probiotics, we can’t be certain of the safety or content of the supplements available to us.
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When Is The Best Time To Take Probiotics
As with many supplements and medications, there are certain times and factors that can change their efficacy, for good or bad. Research shows that the best time to take a probiotic is 30 minutes before a meal. Consistency is key when it comes to taking a probiotic and experiencing as many of the potential health benefits as possible. This means that it is necessary to take it daily to ensure routine and regular replenishment of the guts bacteria.
The stomach is a highly acidic environment, which can make it difficult for many supplements to pass through in their most bioavailable form. The same is true for probiotics. Look for a high-quality probiotic that uses time-release tablets to deliver its bacteria safely to the gut.
The composition of your meal can also help or hinder your probiotics efficacy. A large meal will move more slowly through the stomach and trigger more stomach acid production. If your probiotic is taken along or prior to this type of meal, the probiotic will move more slowly and be exposed to a hostile environment for longer.
Amines In Probiotic Foods May Trigger Headaches
Amines can excite the central nervous system, increase or decrease blood flow and may trigger headaches in people sensitive to the substance .
One study found that low-histamine diets reduced headaches in 75% of participants. However, a review of 10 controlled studies found no significant effect of dietary amines on headaches .
More research is needed to determine whether or not amines can be direct triggers of headaches or migraines in some people.
Keeping a food diary including any headache symptoms you might experience can help clarify whether fermented foods are problematic for you.
If probiotic-rich foods trigger your symptoms, a probiotic supplement may be a better choice.
Fermented foods rich in probiotics naturally contain amines. Some people may experience headaches after eating these foods, and should instead opt for probiotic supplements.
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Can I Use Probiotics To Help With Medical Conditions
There is currently a large amount of research happening around the idea of what probiotics can do for your body. Even though there are a lot of possibly positive outcomes, researchers are still working to find definitive answers about how probiotics can help with various conditions.
However, there are some medical conditions where probiotics may help. This can vary between people meaning that what works for one person may not work for another. These can also vary based on the certain probiotic that is taken.
Some of the conditions that might be helped by increasing the amount of probiotics in your body include:
- Upper respiratory infections .